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Politics & Policy

Supervisors Try To Put the Kibosh on Sideshows

Written by Mike EgePublished Oct. 31, 2022 • 1:22pm
The aftermath of a sideshow in the Bayview on July 22, 2021 | Photo by Meaghan Mitchell

This week, the Board of Supervisors does a status check on people and institutions at risk. 

A review of a Civil Grand Jury report on the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing belies what will likely become a deeper look at the conduct of city-sponsored nonprofits.  

Other items on the agenda include an update on the situation at Laguna Honda Hospital, and the beginnings of a possible crackdown on impromptu stunt driving. Wonks looking for the full agenda can find it here

Room for Improvement

Sunbear Jackson participates in a march with the Coalition on Homelessness march outside of City Hall on Oct. 11, 2022. | Juliana Yamada for The Standard

Given last week’s promises to take a harder look at the Department of Public Health and the city’s nonprofit contractors, a hearing this week about management at the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) looks like better news. 

This past summer, the Civil Grand Jury published findings on progress made at HSH since a damning 2020 performance audit by the Budget and Legislative Analyst (BLA), which found chronic understaffing and no policy for evaluating service providers, among other issues. This week, the Board of Supervisors will likely pass a resolution urging Mayor London Breed to implement some of the report’s recommendations.

The report gave HSH a middling grade, acknowledging that the agency has made progress on staffing shortages and other issues. But it also noted that two years since the BLA report, the agency still lacks strong oversight and data management. 

On Nov. 8, voters will get the chance to establish an oversight commission for HSH—a version of what the Civil Grand Jury recommended—in the form of Prop. C. 

Mayor London Breed opposes Prop. C, and wrote in a letter to the jury that while she acknowledges “that there is more to do [...] I do not believe that additional bureaucracy will end homelessness for San Franciscans. Only housing can.” 

Laguna Honda: Out of the Woods?

Exterior of Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation on Aug. 15, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

The board will also hear an update on efforts to remediate the crisis at Laguna Honda Hospital. On Oct. 12, the city reached a settlement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that will extend funding and suspend patient transfers. 

The board last heard an update on Sept. 13, when interim hospital CEO Roland Pickens declared that hospital operations “were on the right track.” At that hearing, Supervisor Myrna Melgar expressed hope that “there would be good news to report” at tomorrow’s iteration. 

Melgar may be disappointed. On Oct. 11, a report noted that retraining staff to comply with regulations was slow-going.

At least one advocacy group monitoring the situation has said that Laguna Honda could still be forced to shut down, potentially restarting problematic and dangerous patient transfers. The SF-based nonprofit California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform alleges nine Laguna Honda patients have died in connection with the earlier round of transfers. 

Reining in the Fast and the Furious

If most of the supervisors have their way, that sound of burning rubber that you hear some weekends in neighborhoods close to freeways—along with the associated property damage and occasional injuries—will come to an end. 

“Sideshows” of unauthorized drifting and other stunt driving have become a regular occurrence in California cities since the Covid pandemic left restive car-crazed young adults without other fun places to go. 

They’ve repeatedly left massive skid marks at intersections, costing San Francisco thousands of dollars per doughnut. At one street spectacular at Main and Harrison streets earlier this month, closed-circuit cameras captured at least one injury.  

The board has been trying to corral the shows since 2020 when they passed an ordinance mandating 30-day seizures of cars involved in sideshows and the San Francisco Police Department set up a stunt driving enforcement unit. Now they’re looking to up the ante by urging the state to increase their penalties. 

Sponsored principally by Supervisor Matt Dorsey, the resolution was originally going to be voted on last week, but was continued. 

Mike Ege can be reached at

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